New drugs may help prevent migraines

Patients with migraine may soon breathe a sigh of relief — medications created specifically to prevent migraine could hit the market this year.

Patients with migraine may soon breathe a sigh of relief — medications created specifically to prevent migraine could hit the market this year.

Two studies that ran in the New England Journal of Medicine focused on two drugs, erenumab and fremanezumab. Both medications are given as monthly injections to help prevent migraines from developing — a first of its kind.

Patients of Brian M. Plato, D.O., neurologist with the Headache & Concussion Center, a part of Norton Neuroscience Institute, participated in the clinical trials.

“This is an exciting development in the treatment of migraine,” Dr. Plato said. “For so long the treatment options have been to use medications approved for other medical uses — antidepressants, antiseizure medications and blood pressure medications.  These are the first medications developed to specifically prevent migraine.”

Migraines can last from a few hours to several days. The majority of people who experience migraine have episodic migraine — happening less than 15 days per month. Those with chronic migraine experience headaches more than 15 days per month, which can have a major impact on quality of life.

New drugs specifically designed to prevent migraines

For people who experience chronic migraine, they may try one or more different medications in an attempt to prevent migraine attacks. However, none of the drugs that had been widely used were developed to treat migraine, and some can cause severe side effects.

The new injections are monoclonal antibodies. These lab-created proteins are like the ones our immune system uses to target various substances in the body. The medication targets the CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide), a molecule that plays a role in migraines.

The studies showed significant dips in the mean number of migraine days for both drugs. Some patients in the trial reported as much as a 50 percent or greater reduction in migraine days. For migraine patients, that’s a significant amount of days to get back to their daily lives.

“With the experience we gained from participating in the clinical trials for these medications, Norton Neuroscience Institute headache specialists are familiar with these drugs and will be ready to prescribe them for appropriate patients as soon as they are available,” Dr. Plato said.


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